November 8, 2009 - November 14, 2009


US: Congress (Gallup 11/5-8)

11/5-8/09; 1,008 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)


Congressional Job Approval
26% Approve, 68% Disapprove (chart)

US: Obama Approval (Zogby 11/4-6)

11/4-6/09; 2,293 likely voters, 2.1% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Zogby release)


Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 51% Disapprove

State of the Country
41% Right Direction, 53% Wrong track

MA: 2010 Gov, Sen Special (Suffolk 11/4-8)

Suffolk University / 7 News
11/4-8/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Suffolk release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Deval Patick (D): 43 / 47
Tim Cahill (i): 41 / 13
Martha Coakley (D): 57 / 21
Mike Capuano (D): 38 / 18
Charlie Baker (R): 13 / 7
Christy Mihos (R): 30 / 25
Barack Obama: 62 / 33
Alan Khazei (D): 11 / 9
Steve Pagliuca (D): 35 / 18
Jack E. Robinson (R): 9 / 17
Scott Brown (R): 15 / 8

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 60 / 36
Gov. Patrick: 42 / 51

Do you think Governor Deval Patrick deserves to be re-elected or is it time to elect someone else?
32% deserves re-election, 55% time to elect someone else

2010 Senate Special
Coakley 58%, Brown 27%
Capuano 48%, Brown 29%
Brown 33%, Khazei 30%
Pagliuca 49%, Brown 27%

(additional data from this poll was posted yesterday)

US: National Survey (Kos 11/9-12)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
11/9-12/09; 2,400 adults, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 56 / 38 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 39 / 52
Harry Reid: 32 / 57
Mitch McConnell: 15 / 67
John Boehner: 14 / 65
Democratic Party: 43 / 49
Republican Party: 22 / 67

State of the country
40% Right Direction, 56% Wrong Track (chart)

US: Health Care (Gallup 11/5-8)

11/5-8/09; 1,008 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)


Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, or is that not the responsibility of the federal government?
47% Government responsibility, 50% Not government responsibility

Which of the following approaches for providing health care in the United States would you prefer -- replacing the current health care system with a new government run health care system, or maintaining the current system based mostly on private health insurance?
32% Replacing the current system, 61% Maintaining the current system

NC: Ratings (Civitas 10/20-21)

Civitas Institute (R) / McLaughlin & Associates (R)
10/20-21/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Civitas release)

North Carolina

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 49 / 47 (chart)
Bev Perdue: 37 / 50 (chart) (previously released)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 50 / 48 (chart)
Gov. Perdue: 43 / 49 (chart)

2010 Senate
44% Burr, 33% Marshall (chart) (previously released)

NC: Obama Approval (PPP 11/9-11)

Public Policy Polling (D)
11/9-11/09; 711 registered voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

North Carolina

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 47 / 47 (chart)

Continetti's unlikely case for Palin

Topics: 2012 , polls , qualified , Sarah Palin , unqualified

Least plausible political argument I've seen today -- Matthew Continetti's Wall Street Journal op-ed claiming Sarah Palin's "poll numbers among independents are strong enough to give her a chance" to make a comeback (coincidentally, he wrote a book defending her). Here's the key passage on Palin's poll numbers:

Ms. Palin's unpopularity--the result of horrendous media coverage and her role as the McCain campaign's pitbull--is a major political obstacle. Her unfavorable rating hovers around 50%, the point at which most politicians would reach for the Valium.

An October Gallup poll put Ms. Palin's favorable number at 40%, her lowest rating to date. In a November Gallup survey, 63% of all voters said they wouldn't seriously consider supporting her for the presidency.

Yet Ms. Palin isn't as unpopular as John Edwards, and she has a higher approval rating than Nancy Pelosi. As Hillary Clinton's career shows, public perception changes over time. Ms. Palin remains highly popular among Republicans (69% favorable). But the Democrats' striking antipathy to the former governor--she has a 72% unfavorable rating among them--drives down her overall approval.

Independents are a different story. These are the folks who decide presidential elections, and they are divided on Ms. Palin. In last month's Gallup poll, Ms. Palin had a 48% unfavorable and 41% favorable rating among independents. Not good, but not insurmountable. Flip those percentages, and they could be serving moose burgers in the White House in 2013.

What drives independents' uncertainty is their feeling that Ms. Palin isn't up to the job. Independents blanch at her perceived lack of expertise on issues unrelated to energy or abortion. They look at Ms. Palin's disappointing interview with Katie Couric last year, or laugh at Tina Fey's impression on "Saturday Night Live." Her resignation--still not fully explained--stokes their worst fears.

Continetti goes on to outline a strategy that he believes Palin could use to rehabilitate her image. But Palin's reputational problems are more profound than he admits. As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, perceptions of Palin's qualifications for the presidency are shockingly low for a former presidential/VP nominee -- there's been no one comparable to her since Dan Quayle. As such, while it may be true that independents are "divided" in their feelings toward Palin (41% favorable, 48% unfavorable), they tilt heavily toward viewing her as unqualified. Continetti doesn't mention any polls on the subject, but a Gallup survey released last week found that only 28% of independents (and 58% of Republicans!) believe Palin is qualified to be president -- significantly lower than the other prominent Republicans included in the survey (Huckabee, Romney, Gingrich). Given how much people already know about her and how much negative attention she draws from Democrats and the press, it's extremely unlikely she will turn around those numbers. In other words, keep the moose burgers on ice.

PS Note to Continetti: It's a bad sign when you have to clarify that Palin is more popular with John Edwards, a man who cheated on his wife while she was battling cancer.

Update 11/18 9:46 AM: This post was cited in a Christian Science Monitor story on Palin's 2012 prospects.

(Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com)

TX: 2010 Gov Primary (Rasmussen 11/11)

11/11/09; 798 likely Republican primary voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval (among Republicans)
Gov. Perry: 73 / 25

2010 Governor
46% Perry, 35% Hutchison, 4% Medina

Favorable / Unfavorable (among Republicans)
Rick Perry: 75 / 24
Kay Bailey Hutchison: 75 / 23
Debra Medina: 16 / 29

MN: Ratings, Pawlenty 2012 (Rasmussen 11/10)

11/10/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 51 / 48 (chart)
Gov. Pawlenty: 52 / 47 (chart)
Sen. Franken: 50 / 45 (chart)
Sen. Klobuchar: 58 / 38 (chart)
Rep. Bachmann (statewide approval): 51 / 45

Suppose Governor Tim Pawlenty runs for President in 2012 and wins the Republican nomination. If Pawlenty was the Republican Presidential candidate, would you vote for him?
42% Yes, 46% No

Obama Doesn't Own Change

We re-learned something important last Tuesday: President Obama doesn't have proprietary rights to "change." Change is a non-partisan electoral phenomenon, and last week the forces of change bit the Democratic hand that fed them in 2008. Change didn't end when Obama was elected, and this anti-Washington, pro-reform sentiment will likely shape the political environment for the next several months.

To some extent, of course, results in VA and NJ were about key segments of the electorate (such as suburban voters and white women) returning to their ideological comfort zones, but the results there were more about a general dissatisfaction with the direction of the country; that was the key driver in the defeats of two Democratic governors.

While passing some type of health care reform will almost certainly provide a boost to Democrats, we believe that the prolonged focus on health care reform--by Congress and the media--is frustrating voters who continue to be more concerned about the economy. This is why we saw the President announce a "Jobs Summit" this morning. Where has the White House political team been since January? Under a rock?

A lot can--and will--happen in the next 12 months that will impact the 2010 midterms. The generic congressional ballot, however, is one of the better predictors of future election outcomes and the trend is undeniably positive for Republicans. Below is a regression trend going back a little over one year. Just for fun, if we project this out to Election Day 2010 we're looking at a GOP landslide. That, of course, is unlikely, but it does show that Democrats should be concerned with the overall trend.


Some additional notes on the current environment, informed by last week's exit polls:

1. The GOP swept VA and won the Governor's race in NJ by flipping the Obama coalition on its head. Yes, turnout was lower (normal for off-year elections and unsurprising considering turnout for the 2008 Presidential election) but independents, suburban voters and even young voters (in VA) went for the Republicans. Obama won VA by 7 points and NJ by 20! These two maps really tell the story (click for the larger originals):

NJ1112.png va1112.png

2. The economy was a key driver of anti-incumbency sentiment last week and this will continue unless perceptions of economic performance improve. While the Dow is soaring again, unemployment has hit 10.2%. Despite the growing talk about a recovery, it has yet to hit Main Street. A recent Ipsos/McClatchy poll shows that only seven percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy has "turned the corner." From most voter perspectives, the economy is still a mess and they are unsatisfied with the Democrats' response. This is confirmed by the exit polls:

• 89% of NJ voters were worried about the economy and Christie won 51% of the vote among them (Corzine 43%, Daggett 5%).
• 85% of VA voters were worried about economy and McDonnell won 63% - 36% among that group.

In short, voter attitudes regarding the direction of the country are really hurting the President and Democrats right now.


3. All politics is local, but the perception is that local economic woes are due to national, systemic problems. The storyline is that the recession was the result of insufficient regulation and excessive speculation on Wall Street, and it's clear that voters now believe that these type of things fall under the purview of the federal government. This skepticism toward the federal government's ability to deal with these problems was further reinforced by reactions to the stimulus.

4. The exit polls confirm that we're still in a "change" mindset. Republicans also won handily among independents (66-33% in Virginia and 60% - 30% - 9% in New Jeresey).

• Thirty-nine percent of NJ voters said "change" was the most important quality, not "honesty," "experience," or "values," and "change" voters broke 67% - 26% - 7% for Christie.
• McDonnell also won the youth vote 54% - 44%. While this group represented just 10% of the turnout, it is a surprising result for a socially conservative Republican.

5. The stage may be set for another wave election. Suburban voters and white women favored both Christie and McDonnell after breaking for Obama in 2008. These groups were key to both Clinton's victory in 1992 and the subsequent swing back to the GOP in the 1994 midterms. While the economy was not front-and-center at that time, the failure of a transformative liberal agenda to properly address issues sounds familiar. Again, we must stress that we are a long way away from Election Day 2010 and this is just one scenario--if an increasingly plausible one.

MA: 2010 Gov, Sen Special (Suffolk 11/4-8)

Suffolk University / 7 News
11/4-8/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Boston Herald: Obama Approval, 2010 Gov, Economy, Senate Special)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 60 / 36
Gov. Patrick: 42 / 51

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Christy Mihos 33%, Charlie Baker 30%

2010 Governor: General Election
Patrick (D) 38%, Cahill (i) 26%, Baker (R) 15%
Patrick (D) 36%, Cahill (i) 26%, Mihos (R) 20%

2010 Senate Special Election: Democratic Primary
44% Martha Coakley, 17% Steve Pagliuca, 16% Mike Capuano, Alan Khazei 3%

2010 Senate Special Election: Republican Primary
45% Scott Brown, 7% Jack E. Robinson

NC: 2010 Sen (PPP 11/9-11)

Public Policy Polling (D)
11/9-11/09; 711 registered voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

North Carolina

Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Burr: 40 / 31 (chart)

2010 Senate
Burr 44%, Generic Democrat 40% (chart)
Burr 44%, Cal Cunningham 31% (chart)
Burr 45%, Bob Etheridge 35% (chart)
Burr 44%, Kevin Foy 32%
Burr 45%, Kenneth Lewis 32% (chart)
Burr 45%, Elaine Marshall 34% (chart)
Burr 45%, Dennis Wicker 33%

NY-23 Keeps on Going

Topics: Bill Owens , Dede Scozzafava , Doug Hoffman , NY-23

Just when you thought it was safe to move on to another topic, the special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District gets a little more interesting. A story this morning by the Syracuse Post-Standard's Mark Weiner (via alert Pollster reader md) reports that the margin of victory for Democrat Bill Owens over Conservative Doug Hoffman has shrunk from 5,335 votes with 93% of the vote counted on election night to 3,026 votes after a "re-canvassing" that counted additional precincts and found a roughly 1,200 vote error in Hoffman's favor in Oswego County:

The new vote totals mean the race will be decided by absentee ballots, of which about 10,200 were distributed, said John Conklin, communications director for the state Board of Elections.

Under a new law in New York that extended deadlines, military and overseas ballots received by this coming Monday (and postmarked by Nov. 2) will be counted. Standard absentee ballots had to be returned this past Monday.

Hoffman conceded the race on election night, and Owens was sworn in by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just in time to provide an additional "yes" vote on heath care reform legislation. Weiner explains how that was possible given the ongoing vote count:

Conklin said the state sent a letter to the House Clerk last week explaining that no winner had been determined in the 23rd District, and therefore the state had not certified the election. But the letter noted that Owens still led by about 3,000 votes, and that the special election was not contested -- two factors that legally allowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to swear in Owens on Friday.

"We sent a letter to the clerk laying out the totals," Conklin said. "The key is that Hoffman conceded, which means the race is not contested. However, all ballots will be counted, and if the result changes, Owens will have to be removed."

While the re-canvass narrows the race from a 4.1 percentage point Owens margin (49.3% to 45.2%) on election night to a slightly better than 2 point margin now,** it is still very unlikely that Hoffman can overtake Owens on the absentee votes. Hoffman would need to defeat Owens by a margin of at least 2:1 among absentee voters, assuming that most of the 10,200 ballots were returned and that Scozzafava's vote is 10% or less. Not even the ill-fated PPP poll had Hoffman ahead by 2:1 districtwide. And Hoffman's margin would need to be larger if Scozzafava's vote is bigger or if the number of returned ballots is smaller.

Also, the narrowing does not change the polling story that I focused on in this week's column. I was working with the AP vote totals reported by the Saratoga Springs Saratogian that had already corrected the Oswego County error and showed Hoffman leading by roughly three percentage points. So the closer count does make the polling "error" smaller, but only a little smaller.

**The Post-Standard story provides new vote totals for Hoffman and Owens but not Scozzafava, so I can't calculate the precise percentages.

Update: The Watertown DailyTimes published results-by-county this morning that give Owens a 3,176 vote margin.  They also say that only "about 5,400" absentee ballots left to be counted, which would make it virtually impossible for Hoffman to overtake Owens. 

US: Afghanistan (Gallup 11/5-8)

11/5-8/09; 1,008 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)


Which of the following would you like to see President Obama do - increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by the roughly 40,000 the U.S. commanding general there has recommended, increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan but by a smaller amount than the 40,000 the U.S. commanding general there has recommended, keep the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan the same as now, begin to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan?
35% Increase troops by 40,000
7% Increase troops by less than 40,000
7% Keep the number of troops the same
44% Begin to reduce number of troops

OH: 2010 Sen (Quinnipiac 11/5-9)

11/5-9/09; 1,123 registered voters, 2.9% margin of error
406 Republicans, 4.9% margin of error
394 Democrat, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Senate: Republican Primary
26% Rob Portman, 7% Tom Ganley (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
24% Lee Fisher, 22% Jennifer Brunner (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
39% Portman, 36% Fisher (chart)
38% Fisher, 34% Ganley
35% Brunner, 32% Ganley
38% Portman, 34% Brunner (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Lee Fisher: 25 / 15
Jennifer Brunner: 20 / 18
Rob Portman: 22 / 7
Tom Ganley: 12 / 5

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 45 / 50 (chart)

CT: 2010 Sen (Quinnipiac 11/3-8)

11/3-8/09; 1,236 registered voters, 2.8% margin of error
474 Democrats, 4.5% margin of error
332 Republicans, 5.4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
Chris Dodd 55%, Merrick Alpert 22% (chart)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
Rob Simmons 28%, Linda McMahon 17%, Tom Foley 9%, Peter Schiff 5%, Sam Caligiuri 4% (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
49% Simmons, 38% Dodd (chart)
43% McMahon, 41% Dodd
42% Caligiuri, 42% Dodd (chart)
42% Schiff, 41% Dodd (chart)
47% Foley, 40% Dodd (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Dodd: 42 / 49 (chart)
Rob Simmons: 40 / 10
Linda McMahon: 20 / 13
Sam Caligiuri: 10 / 3
Tom Foley: 20 / 6
Peter Schiff: 7 / 4
Merrick Alpert: 1/ 3

Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Lieberman: 49 / 44 (chart)
Sen. Dodd: 40 / 54 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 58 / 35 (chart)

Looking ahead to the 2010 election for United States Senator, do you feel that Chris Dodd deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?
39% Deserves, 53% Does not deserve

Looking ahead to the 2012 election for United States Senator, do you feel that Joe Lieberman deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?
46% Deserves, 45% Does not deserve

In general, do you think Joe Lieberman's views on issues are closer to - the Republican Pary or the Democratic Party?
51% Republican, 25% Democratic

Independent 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Mike Mokrzycki weighs in on whether automated polls did a better job in 2009.

Jennifer Agiesta reviews broad support for the death penalty in Virginia.

Lymari Morales explains why we should care what other people think.

Mark Mellman sees one surprise in the 2009 elections.

Bill McInturff and Nichole McClesky list 5 trends to watch in 2010.

Tom Jensen finds Republicans to be mostly conservative.

David Hill shares sensible advice about making sense of independents.

Morris Fiorina believes Republicans still have more serious problems than Democrats with the "uninterested, uninvolved electorate."

Chris Bowers thinks Democrats can appeal to both disillusioned and swing voters.

Nate Silver finds explanations of independent voting in 2009 unconvincing.

Greg Sargent notes an enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans in today's new Pew Research survey.

Jonathan Silver reviews yet more regional tabulations of the generic House vote.

Stuart Rothenberg crowns SurveyUSA "Pollster of the Cycle."

Jim Galloway reports on a live interviewer experience sure to please automated pollsters.

The Onion satirizes another Zogby innovation.

US: News Interest (Pew 11/6-9)

Pew Research Center
11/6-9/09; 1,001 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew release)


Most Closely Followed Story

30% A shooter killing 13 people at Fort hood Army post in Texas
25% Debate over health care reform
15% Reports about swine flu and the vaccine
8% Reports about the rising unemployment rate
4% Reports about state and local elections
4% The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan

In general, do you think news reports are overstating the danger of the swine flu, understating the danger of the swine flu, or presenting it about right?
43% Overstating, 7% Understating, 47% About right

Thinking now about the issue of health care, from what you've seen and heard, do you think a health care reform bill will pass over the next year or not?
48% Yes, will, 40% No, will not

US: National Survey (Pew 10/28-11/8)

Pew Research Center
10/28-11/8/09; 2,000 adults, 3% margin of error
1,644 registered voters, 3% margin of error
564 Republicans, 5% margin of error
657 Democrats, 5% margin of error
623 independents, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew release)


Obama Job Approval
51% Approve, 36% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 79 / 12 (chart)
Reps: 22 / 66 (chart )
Inds: 45 / 39 (chart)
Economy: 42 / 52 (chart)
Health Care: 43 / 47 (chart)
Foreign Policy: 44 / 38 (chart)

2010 House: Generic Ballot (among registered voters)
47% Democrat, 42% Republican (chart)

Would you like to see your representative in Congress be re-elected in the next congressional election, or not? (among registered voters)
52% Yes, 29% No

Regardless of how you feel about your own representative, would you like to see most members of Congress re-elected in next year's congressional election, or not? (among registered voters)
34% Yes, 53% No

As of right now, do you generally favor or generally oppose the health care proposals being discussed in Congress?
38% Favor, 47% Oppose (chart)

Over the next year, do you think the number of troops in Afghanistan should be increased, decreased, or kept the same as it is now?
32% Increased, 40% Decreased, 19% Kept the same

Party ID
35% Democrat, 27% Republican, 32% independent (chart)

US: Afghanistan (CNN 10/30-11/1)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/30-11/1/09; 1,018 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?
40% Favor, 58% Oppose

Would you favor or oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan?
42% Favor, 56% Oppose

As you may know, Barack Obama has been considering whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. Do you think Obama has taken too long to make that decision, or don't you think so?
49% Taken too long, 50% Don't think so

When it comes to decisions about military strategy and troop strength in Afghanistan, do you think Obama should follow the recommendations of the generals in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, or should Obama take other matters into account as well?
52% Follor recommendations of generals
48% Take other matters into account

Do you think that, within the next 12 months, there will or will not be a stable democratic government in Afghanistan that can maintain order in the country without assistance from U.S. troops?
8% Will, 90% Will not

Southern States: Regional Survey (Winthrop 10/24-11/7)

Winthrop Poll
10/24-11/7/09; 866 respondents, 3.33% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Winthrop: release, toplines)

Southern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia

Obama Job Approval
47% Approve, 42% Disapprove
Health care: 37 / 51
Iraq and Afghanistan: 38 / 48

Congressional Job Approval
18% Approve, 70% Disapprove

Regardless of how you voted in the 2008 presidential election, are you still happy with your vote choice?
Obama Voters: 93% Yes, 4% No
McCain Voters: 88% Yes, 9% No

State of the Country
35% Right track, 54% Wrong track

In 2010, all members of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for reelection and one-third of the members of the U.S. Senate are up for reelection. Which of the following comes closest to your opinion:"
45% I would rather have a Republican-controlled Congress to serve as a check on President Obama's agenda"
40% I would rather have a Democratic-controlled Congress to help with President Obama's agenda

Would you advise your member of Congress to vote for or against the healthcare reform bill currently before Congress, or do you not have an opinion?
32% Vote for, 42% Vote against

OH: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 11/5-9)

11/5-9/09; 1,123 registered voters, 2.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Governor
Strickland 40%, Kasich 40% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ted Strickland: 38 / 37 (chart)
John Kasich: 23 / 7

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Strickland: 45 / 43 (chart)
Sen. Voinovich: 47 / 36 (chart)
Sen. Brown: 46 / 31 (chart)

US: National Survey (AP-GfK 11/5-9)

11/5-9/09; 1,006 adults, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(AP-Gfk release)


State of the Country
38% Right Direction, 56% Wrong track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
54% Approve, 43% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 46 / 49 (chart)
Health Care: 49 / 46 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
30% Approve, 66% Disapprove (chart)

In general, do you support, oppose or neither support nor oppose the health care reform plans being discussed in Congress?
39% Support, 45% Oppose (chart)

If President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are unable to win support from Republicans to pass a health care plan this year, what should they do? Should they...
31% Go ahead and pass a bill without Republican support
61% Keep trying until they are able to make a deal with the Republicans

Do you favor or oppose the war in Iraq?
30% Favor, 67% Oppose

Do you favor or oppose the war in Afghanistan?
39% Favor, 57% Oppose

Would you favor or oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan?
43% Favor, 54% Oppose

Party ID
35% Democrat, 21% Republican, 24% independent (chart)

Nevada Charts Up

We've just added new charts for the 2010 races for senate and governor in Nevada, as well as our usual favorable and approval ratings charts.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid has consistently trailed in the polls against both former state senator and Republican party chairwoman Sue Lowden and real estate owner Danny Tarkanian. On the gubernatorial side, Jim Gibbons appears to face an uphill climb to win reelection against primary or general election challengers, although polling in the governor's race has been sparse.

Links to all of the newly added Nevada pages are available below, and all of these pages can be found via or Nevada state page.


Pres. Obama: Approval, Favorable rating
Sen. Reid: Approval, Favorable rating
Sen. Ensign: Approval, Favorable rating
Gov. Gibbons: Approval, Favorable rating

2010 Senate:

NV-Sen: All Head-to-Head Matchups
NV-Sen: Lowden (R) vs Sen. Reid (D)
NV-Sen: Tarkanian (R) vs Sen. Reid (D)
NV-Sen: Republican Primary

2010 Governor:

NV-Gov: All Head-to-Head Matchups
NV-Gov: Republican Primary

Have a suggestion for a state you'd like to see updated next? Leave a comment or e-mail us!

US: Generic Ballot (Gallup 11/5-8)

11/5-8/09; 894 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)


2010 House: Generic Ballot
48% Republican, 44% Democrat (chart)

US: Health Care (Zogby 11/4-6)

11/4-6/09; 2,293 likely voters, 2.1% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Zogby release)


Job Approval on Health Care
Pres. Obama: 39 / 59 (chart)
Republicans in Congress: 16 / 81
Democrats in Congress: 17 / 81
Sen. Snowe: 14 / 70
Sen. Lieberman: 20 / 66

What's Up With the Health Care Reform Polls?

Topics: Bob Blendon , Health Care Reform

If you look at our chart mashing up the various pollster questions that track support or opposition to health care reform, it is hard to miss that the red "opposition" line has been rising during October. Why?

Keep in mind that differences in methodology (question wording, populations sampled) produce huge variation in the results. Use the chart's "plot" tool to hide the trend lines, and you see quite a bit of overlap between the dots representing individual poll results for favor (black) and oppose (red). As such, the "nose" of this particular chart gets fooled more often than election charts when the most recent polls come from pollsters that are typically skewed in one direction or another.

In this case, however, the change looks to be real. First, try using the "smoothing" tool to change to the "less sensitive" setting, which effectively reduces the influence of the most recent surveys on the trend line. Doing so in this case shows the same upward drift in the oppose line.

Second, forget the chart and focus on apples-to-apples comparisons for three pollsters that released new surveys over the last week:

  • Last week, CNN/ORC showed 45% of adults favoring "Barack Obama's plan to reform health care" and 53% opposed. That represents a reversal since mid-September, when 51% were in favor and 56% opposed.
  • Gallup shows initial support for the "health care legislation now being considered by Congress" falling sharply from 38% in mid-September and 40% in early October to 28% this week, with opposition remaining flat and "or do you not have an opinion" jumping sharply (from 22% to 33% since mid-September). When Gallup pushes their adult samples to say which way they lean, their results look similar to the CNN poll: 43% support or lean to support while 48% are opposed or lean that way -- a reversal since September and mid-October.
  • Last week's IPSOS/McClatchy poll shows a similar change: Earlier in the month, their adult sample divided on "the health care proposals now being discussed" (40% favor, 42% oppose). Their survey last week shows 39% in favor and 49% opposed.

Mickey Kaus noticed the trend in the IPSOS/McClatchy poll last week and asked what this apparent change might be about. Here is my take.

The most important thing to remember is that Americans most likely to be shifting their opinions are those least engaged in news about the ongoing Congressional health care debate. And even though most of the Pew Research News Index surveys in recent months show large majorities who say they are "closely" following the debate, they also find that nearly half of adults (44%) do not know that the "public option" deals with health care, while four-out-of-five cannot pick Max Baucus' name from a list of four senators as the chair of the Senate Finance committee working on health care.

Bob Blendon, the widely respected Harvard academic who has studied public opinion on health for much of his career, makes a similar point in a just published article in the New England Journal of Medicine (co-authored by John Benson, summarized on Kaiser Health News and blogged about yesterday by Karen Tumulty):

Most Americans are not health policy specialists, and they are unlikely to read a long and complex piece of legislation. Instead, they will rely on trusted intermediaries to clarify its likely impact on them. The President and congressional leaders play a critical role, but public confidence in leaders in Washington is not universally high.

As he has argued all along, Blendon believes that as the health care debate comes to a close, the "most important factor in determining the level of public approval" will be "Americans' impressions of the legislation's likely impact on their own situation. Support for or opposition to specific elements of the legislation and concerns about the need for reform in general will be secondary influences."

In that context, here are two theories about what might be behind the October trend:

1) More negative ads from reform opponents - CNN reports:

Opponents of President Obama's approach to health care reform have outspent supporters by more than $7 million in the past 30 days... "We are starting to see a separation in the messaging," said Evan Tracey, president of CMAG and CNN's consultant on political television advertising. "Groups that are opposed to President Obama's health care plan are starting to turn up the volume in key states to put pressure on lawmakers to vote against these bills."

2) Process coverage and Democratic disunity - As always, news coverage tends to focus on the legislative process - who is up, who is down and what tactics are working or not working. In September, President Obama's speech largely rallied Democrats who were generally upbeat and supportive in public comments. Over the last few weeks, however, the story reverted to previous form: Most coverage focused on threats of filibuster or non-support from Senators Landrieu, Bayh, Lieberman, etc. in contrast to the relatively unified opposition of the Republicans. My guess is that the contrast of Republican opposition and Democratic squabbling gives greater credibility to the Republican arguments against reform.

I called Blendon for his reaction, and he largely agrees. He points to the Gallup result showing 26% of adults who say the health care bill will "make your own health care situation better," 36% who say it will make it worse and 31% who think it will not make much difference. "In the absence of not having a fixed view of what this [reform bill] is and how it will work out for me," he said, Americans are "more susceptible to advertising."

In the same context, Americans are also watching the news coverage focused on the legislative process and "getting more scared." He said he watched the cable news coverage following passage of the bill on Saturday night and saw "not a word telling you why you should care if the thing passes."

Blendon still believes, as he and Benson argue in NEJM, that "public opinion is still fluid on the key question about the impact of the legislation." Again, the percentage that say they will be worse off still falls far below a majority, and Gallup has tracked in increase in the initial "not sure" response (from 22% to 33%) over the last month. Proponents of health care, Blendon argues, must invest time telling seniors and others who stand to benefit "how they will be better off...that's the thing they have to do to turn this around."

The Business of Polling and Opinion/Market Research

Political polling is a subset of the opinion and market research industry. And it is a big business.

But how is this business doing?

Political polling (which drives the majority of the visitors to this site) is a fairly predictable business driven by the electoral calendar and not by the business cycle. The business of political polling is facing several large (but manageable) challenges. One is cooperation rates and the other is the decline of the landline. But, this business seems to be humming along at its usual clip, relatively immune to the great recession.

However, many political polling firms also have large commercial research businesses. These commercial research businesses are frequently dominated by public affairs and corporate messaging research practices, but have branched out into traditional market research work as well.

And how is this part of the industry doing?

It's been a tough year.

The Research Industry Trends 2009 Survey polled 512 individuals in the market research industry, including those on the supplier and client (inside a corporation) side. The results are unpleasant for anyone in the industry:

1. 57% reported a decline in revenue.
2. Only 42% of US based researchers expect a growth year.
3. 73% agreed that research is becoming commoditized with clients less willing to pay for quality.
4. 70% agree that clients are demanding shorter timelines and faster delivery of results.

To see the full report, here or here

At a broader level, this data tracks closely with my assessment of the industry and where it is headed.

For a lengthier read on where I think the market research industry is going, click here

Christie's Pollster on NJ Polls

Topics: Disclosure , Divergent Polls , New Jersey , New Jersey 2009

Adam Geller is the CEO of National Research, Inc. and conducted polling for Chris Christie's campaign in New Jersey this year.

I'd like to contribute a few thoughts on the performance of the public polls during the recently concluded New Jersey Gubernatorial race. On this topic, I bring a unique perspective, as the pollster for the Christie campaign, and I'd like to offer my thoughts not as any type of authority, but rather to contribute to an important professional discussion.

I should mention that, for what it's worth, some observers may have been surprised by the results on November 3rd, but neither Governor Elect Christie nor his advisers were surprised.

Before the cement hardens and ink dries on the post election wrap up, let me offer the following five thoughts:

  1. The automated polls were more accurate than the live interview public polls, due in part to the methodology of the live interview polls.
    From polls that were in the field for an entire week (Quinnipiac) or even longer (FDU), to polls that oversampled Democrats (Democracy Corps, among several others) to polls that asked every single name in the ballot (Suffolk), an essential reason for the poor performance of the live interview polls had less to do with the fact that a live person was administering the poll and more to do with methodological issues.
  2. The partisan spread in the polls ought to be reported up front.
    Some public pollsters make it difficult to determine how many Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters they interviewed. Why not just put it into the toplines? Reporters and bloggers should demand this before they report on the results. Not to pick on Quinnipiac, but they had Corzine and Christie winning about the same amount of their own partisans, and they had Christie winning Independents by 15 percentage points, and yet they STILL had Christie trailing overall by 5 points. Quinnipiac did not publish their partisan spread, but then an astute blogger was able to ascertain the fact that there were, in fact, too many Democrats in the sample. Other polls, notably Democracy Corps, regularly produced samples with too many Democrats (though, in their parlance, some of these were "Independent - Lean Democrat"). That their sample was loaded up with Democrats had the obvious effect on their results. Whether this was intentional or not, I would leave to others to speculate.
  3. In general, RDD methodology is a bad choice in New Jersey, if the goal is predictive accuracy.
    In New Jersey, there are many undeclared voters (commonly but mistakenly referred to as Independents). These undeclared voters identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats - even though they are not registered that way. In our polls, we frequently showed a Democrat registration advantage that matched their actual registration advantage - but when it came to partisan ID, the spread was more like a six point Democrat advantage. By using a voter list, we knew how a respondent was registered - and by seeing how they ID'ed themselves, we gained insight into the relative behavioral trends of undeclared voters and even registered Democrats who were self identifying as Independents. Public pollsters who dialed RDD missed this. Partisan identification in New Jersey is not enough, if the goal is to "get it right."
  4. The public polls oversampled NON voters.
    Again, this is a function of RDD versus voter list dialing. It is easy for someone to tell a pollster they are "very likely" to vote. With no vote history and no other nuanced questions, the poll taker has little choice but to trust the respondent. Pollsters who use voter lists have the benefit on knowing exactly how many general elections a respondent may have voted in over the past five years, or when they registered. By asking several types of motivation questions, the pollster can construct turnout models that will have a better predictive capacity. The public polls did not seem to do this.

    To this end, we had heard all about the "surge strategy" that the Corzine campaign was going to employ. This refers to targeting "one time Obama voters" and driving them out in force on election day. With voter lists, we were easily able to incorporate some "surge targets" into our sample. After running our turnout models, we saw no evidence that the surge voters would be game changers.
  5. The Daggett effect was overstated in the public polls.
    Conventional wisdom holds that Independent candidates underperform on election day. But the reality is, many analysts could have easily predicted Daggett's collapse, based not on history, but on simple a simple derivative crosstab: for example, voters who were certain to vote for Daggett AND had a very favorable opinion of him. They could have asked a "blind ballot" where none of the candidate choices were read. We did these things - and we estimated Daggett's true level of support to be around 6%.
None of this is meant to pick on the "live interview" public pollsters. For the most part, these polls are conducted and analyzed by seasoned research professionals. But in non-Presidential years, RDD methodology can lead to inaccurate results, which can then lead to inaccurate analysis. It is tough to conclude that the automated polls are somehow superior to live interview polls, given the methodological issues I've outlined.

What does it mean for next year? At the very least, journalists, bloggers and reporters need to ask more questions about the methodology and construction of the poll sample. They need to understand the partisan spread, and the extent to which it conforms to reality. They need to know how long the survey was in the field. They also need to beware of polls being released that are designed to manipulate opinion rather than manage it. They need to ask if certain polls are being constructed to reflect what is happening, or if they are being constructed to reflect what the poll sponsor would LIKE to happen. The public polls add to the dialogue, and given their ever increasing contributing role, we all ought to be more demanding when reporting their results.

ME: 2012 Sen Primary (PPP 10/31-11/1)

Public Policy Polling
10/31-11/1/09; 1,133 likely voters, 2.9% margin of error
415 likely Republican primary voters, 4.8% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Snowe: 51 / 36

2012 Senate: Republican Primary
59% More conservative challenger, 31% Snowe

US: Swine Flu (CNN 10/30-11/1)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/30-11/1/09; 1,018 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


How confident are you that the federal government can prevent a nationwide swine flu epidemic -- very confident, somewhat confident, not very confident, or not confident at all?
11% Very confident
40% Somewhat confident
26% Not very confident
23% Not confident at all

Just your best guess -- do you think that the government and private industry can or cannot produce
enough swine flu vaccine to inoculate all Americans who want to get a swine flu shot?

53% Can, 46% Cannot

Multinational Data on Capital Staffers' Media Consumption

In a grounbreaking study of legislative staffers from Congress, the UK Parliament, the EU Parliament, the French Assembly and the German Bundestag conducted for Edelman, StrategyOne found that staffers regularly access digital outlets and social media to research, influence and set policy. Nearly every staffer (96%) uses online resources for public policy research, more than half (54%) reported learning of policy issues for the first time online and one in five (19%) actually changed policy positions based on information and opinions they found online.

The survey clearly identified the growing importance of digital tools for both communicating with constituents and for constituents reaching their members. They noted websites have become ubiquitous in terms of their usage and effectiveness in reaching constituents (82% feel they are effective) while other outlets have also demonstrated their positive impact - online videos (52%), blogging (46%) and micro blogging such as Twitter (22%).

In terms of the effectiveness in reaching their members of Parliament and Congress through digital means, e-mail scored the highest at 87% effective with Member's blog rated at 31%, Member's social network at 22% and microblogs, such as Twitter, at 7%.

The study found that staffers are turning to social networks, blogs and microblogs more regularly for personal usage (Facebook 60%, YouTube 52%, Personal Blog 12%, Twitter 11%) than they are for professional reasons. However, their usage patterns reflect receptivity to these tools and an opportunity to increase usage for analysis, communicating with constituents and reaching colleagues on policy issues.

For the full report, click here: http://edelman.com/capital_staffers_index.pdf

CT: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 11/3-8)

CT: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 11/3-8)

11/3-8/09; 1,236 registered voters, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Susan Bysiewicz 26%, Ned Lamont 23%, Dan Malloy 9%, Jim Amann 3%, Gary LeBeau 2%, Rudy Marconi 1% (trend)

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
Jodi Rell* 52%, Malloy 33%
Rell* 46%, Bysiewicz 40%
Rell* 53%, Lamont 33%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jodi Rell: 60 / 29 (chart)
Susen Bysiewicz: 43 / 11
Jim Amann: 7 / 8
Dan Malloy: 21 / 10
Ned Lamont: 31 / 24
Gary LeBeau: 4 / 4
Rudy Marconi: 5 / 3

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Rell: 64 / 30 (chart)

*Jodi Rell has announced that she will not seek reelection for Governor

US: Health Care (Gallup 11/5-8)

11/5-8/09; 1,008 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)


Thinking about health care legislation now being considered by Congress, would you advise your member of Congress to vote for or against a healthcare bill this year, or do you not have an opinion?
43% Vote for, 48% Vote against (chart)

Taking everything into account, if a new healthcare bill becomes law, do you think in the long run it will make the U.S. healthcare system better, would it not make much difference, or make it worse than it is now?
41% Better, 14% Not much difference, 40% Worse

Taking everything into account, if a new healthcare bill becomes law, do you think in the long run it will make your own healthcare situation better, would it not make much difference, or make it worse than it is now?
26% Better, 31% Not much differencwe, 36% Worse

NJ, VA: Post-Election (GQR 11/3-5)

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner / Women's Voices, Women's Vote
NJ: 1,122 registered voters, 2.9% margin of error
VA: 1,077 registered voters, 3.0% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(GQR release)

Virginia and New Jersey


While the consensus is that these elections were not referenda on President Obama, a new post-election survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Women's Voices. Women Vote confirms that it does suggest potential problems for progressives going into the mid-terms. The decline in turnout in Virginia and New Jersey among progressive voters--and in Virginia where the Democratic margins shrank among these voters--suggests that progressives need to make particular outreach efforts heading into 2010....

Key Findings:

  • The marriage gap--the difference in voter participation and voting behavior between married women and unmarried women--continues to drive electoral outcomes, with unmarried women continuing to represent a huge (26 percent of the voting age population) underdeveloped bloc of voters.

  • Voters in the Rising American Electorate played a primary role in Obama's 2008 victory, but too many stayed home in 2009.

  • The elections in New Jersey and Virginia were not a referendum on Obama's performance or even the pace of change in the country.

NV: 2010 Gov (Muth 11/6-7)

Nevada News and Views (R) / Chuck Muth (R) / PMI, Inc.
11/6-7/09; 4,769 likely Republican voters, 1.4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Nevada News and Views article)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
36% Brian Sandoval, 24% Jim Gibbons, 7% Mike Montandon

Omero: Turnout Expectations in NJ & VA

One lesson many wanted to learn about last week's Gubernatorial elections was "the Obama coalition" of young voters and black voters didn't materialize this time around.  Some speculated higher turnout among these voters would prove to be a one-time phenomenon.   Some on the left seem to think the lack of a single-payer health care plan could be to blame for a lack of high turnout among the Dem base.  Whatever the perspective, most commentators began with the assumption that the Democratic campaigns had it within their power to replicate the turnout patterns of the 2008 general election.

With even a casual examination of past turnout data, this seems to be an unbelievably high standard by which to define turnout success.  An odd-year election simply cannot hold a candle to a record turnout presidential year.  Voting groups who turnout less frequently--like minority groups and younger voters--are not going to be solely responsible for the dropoff.   The charts below show turnout since 1978.  In both states, not one time has either odd year or mid-term turnout surpassed presidential year turnout from that cycle.  In fact, only once (in Virginia) does mid-term turnout appear to just surpass presidential turnout from a different cycle.


Thumbnail image for Virginia Turnout.jpg 

Thumbnail image for New Jersey Turnout.jpgFurthermore, black and younger voters turnout as a percentage of the 2009 vote is actually not that different from the percentage in previous midterm elections.  Midterm elections don't have the same turnout pattern as presidential elections, whether pre-Obama or post-Obama.  The table below shows the percentage of in the last four elections who are under 29 year old, or African-American.  Unfortunately there are no public 2005 exit polls for us to truly compare apples to apples. 

nj and va table.JPGThis is not to argue that there aren't lessons for Democrats from these elections.  Or that efforts to turnout first-time voters from 2008 are futile, or even that exploring changes in turnout can't be an interesting exercise.  But to lay the drop-off in turnout from 2008 to 2009 squarely on the feet of younger and black voters is both unfair and misguided.


RI: 2010 Gov (Chafee 10/26-29)

Alpha Research Associates / Lincoln Chafee (i)
10/26-29/09; 403 likely voters, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Providence Journal article)

Rhode Island

2010 Governor
Lincoln Chafee (i) 36%, Frank Caprio (D) 34%, Rory Smith (R) 8%
Lincoln Chafee (i) 37%, Patrick Lynch (D) 24%, Rory Smith (R) 15%

What Happened to Hoffman's Lead?

My column for this week on the performance of polls in the New York 23rd District is now posted.

US: Health Care (Rasmussen 11/7-8)

11/7-8/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


Generally speaking, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and the congressional Democrats?
45% Somewhat/Strongly Favor, 52% Somewhat / Strongly Oppose (chart)

If the health care reform plan passes, will the quality of health care get better, worse, or stay about the same?
23% Better, 53% Worse, 18% Same

If the health care reform plan passes, will the cost of health care go up, go down, or stay about the same?
52% Up, 19% Down, 21% Same

CA: 2010 Sen, Gov (LATimes 10/27-11/3)

USC / LATimes / Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D) / Public Opinion Strategies (R)
10/27-11/1/09; 1,500 registered voters, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(LA Times article, GQR release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 60 / 34 (chart)
Gov. Schwarzenegger: 33 / 62 (chart)
Sen. Boxer: 43 / 36 (chart)
Sen. Feinstein: 48 / 35 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 65 / 33 (chart)
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 41 / 57 (chart)
Barbara Boxer: 49 / 36 (chart)
Jerry Brown (D): 44 / 27
Gavin Newsom (D): 27 / 26
Chuck DeVore (R): 6 / 4
Carly Fiorina (R): 9 / 12
Meg Whitman (R): 17 / 14
Steve Poizner (R): 11 / 7
Tom Campbell (R): 17 / 8
Loretta Sanchez (D): 18 / 12

2010 Senate: Republican Primary (trends)
Fiorina 27%, DeVore 27%

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Whitman 35%, Campbell 27%, Poizner 10% (chart)

Do you think that same-sex couples should be allowed to become legally married in the state of California?
51% Yes, 43% No

Shifts in Vote and Turnout in New Jersey and Virginia


The shifts in outcomes between the 2008 presidential and 2009 gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia were driven far more by shifts in voting preferences among groups than by changes in turnout across those groups. Only age groups show consistently substantial changes in relative share of the electorate. Vote preference, in comparison, shows quite large shifts between election years. While one narrative of the 2009 election was changing turnout motivation, this turns out to be substantially false. Instead, changes in candidate preference drove the Republican wins in both New Jersey and Virginia.

The chart above shows the direction and size of change in vote preference for nine categories and 27 groups measured by exit polls in both years. The arrows start at the 2008 vote and point to the 2009 vote. The length of the arrow shows the amount of change and the arrow shows the direction of change. The colors code the shift in majority vote from 2008 to 2009. Blue indicates a Democratic majority for the group in both years. Red represents a Republican majority both years. Purple shows the groups that switched from a Democratic majority in 2008 to a Republican majority in 2009. None of the 27 groups switched from Republican to Democratic majorities.

In Virginia, large shifts in preference came among 18-29 year olds, those without a college degree, independents, rural voters and males. Smaller but still interesting changes came among lower and middle income voters, both of which shifted from majority Dem to majority Rep.

The most talked about shifts are among partisans and ideological groups. The large 16 point shift from 49 to 33 percent Dem among independents has justifiably received a lot of attention. But perhaps as interesting is the similarity of partisan loyalty among Dems and Reps. Neither shifted by enough to make the length of the arrow stand out. Virginia Democrats actually increased their Dem support by a point, while Republicans came home by a small 4 percentage points more than in 2008. Clearly the independents drove the dynamics of the outcomes.

Among conservatives, there was a modest shift of 9 points more Republican support in 2009, and a 5 point shift among moderates. Liberals moved a single point more Democratic.

By contrast, the shifts in share of the electorate were quite modest, as seen below.


By far the largest shifts are among the various age groups. The 18-29 year olds dropped 11 points, from 21 to 10 percent of the electorate. Those 30-44 also declined a bit, from 30 to 24 percent. These were matched by gains of 9 points among 45-64 year olds and of 7 points among those 65 and older. Age is one of the most potent predictors of turnout, and as this chart shows, one of the most dynamic from 2008-09.

The other two groups with interesting shifts are the rise in share of the electorate among conservatives (up from 33 to 40 percent of voters) and the similar decline in turnout among Democrats, from 39 to 33 percent.

Not only are these shifts substantial, but they also stand out against the very modest shifts in share of the electorate for all other groups. Many of the arrows have invisible lengths, indicating very small changes of one or two percent.

In New Jersey, we also see large preference shifts and even smaller turnout shifts.


The giant preference change in New Jersey is among independents, the same as Virginia. NJ independents took a massive 21 point shift from 51 percent for Obama to just 30 percent for Corzine. Also as in Virginia, Republicans came home to their party a bit, from a 14 percent defection rate for Obama to just 8 percent defection to Corzine. Democrats meanwhile barely budge, down from 89 to 86 percent Dem.

There were other substantial movements in vote preference, among 30-44 year olds, moderates, whites, hispanics and males. In short, many groups in New Jersey made substantial movements away from Democratic votes.

By contrast, the makeup of the New Jersey electorate changed a bit among age groups but hardly at all for virtually all other groups.


As with Virginia, there were declines in share of the electorate among 18-29 and 30-44 year olds and compensating increases among those 45 and above.

No other group comes close to such large changes in size. Several change by exactly zero (the open circles in the chart) and most others have lengths too small to see in the plot. The nearest exceptions are a decline of moderates of five percent and a corresponding five point rise among conservatives.

The bottom line for both states is that turnout changes were mostly about the age structure of the electorate. Younger voters are more responsive to short term stimulation, and in 2008 that translated to relatively large turnout, while in the absence of that stimulus in 2009 the more stable commitment to voting among those over 45 advantaged that group.

The shifts in preference in both states were significantly larger for many more groups. Preferences are driven by candidates and issues and those were the primary drivers of the change in outcomes from 2008 to 2009.

Below are alternative looks at the data, comparing the share and the vote for each state. These give a better look at the entire set of groups, but it is harder to compare magnitude of changes along the diagonal line in these charts than in the arrow plots above.





On to 2010 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Nate Silver shares a new survey of Oklahoma students that makes Strategic Vision LLC look even more "disreputable and fraudulent."

Rasmussen reports Democratic party ID inching up in October.

Glen Bolger reviews what worked for McDonnell.

Ed Goeas sees Tuesday's results as good news for Republicans.

Mark Mellman says Tuesdays results tell us little we did not already know.

Sam Stein examines pollster hits and misses in 2009.

Karl Rove is impressed with automated polls (via @dusher).

Jonathan Singer notes some regional inconsistency on the generic congressional ballot.

Jed Lewison rebuts the Frank Luntz health care memo.

Carl Bialik calculates the odds that Gov. Schwarzenegger's nasty anagram happened by chance (more in his blog and from Andrew Gelman ).

FBI investigators pursue the possibility that the Kentucky Census worker death was suicide (via Sullivan).

Survey Practice publishes its November issue, includes an article on how to target cell phone only households for Internet surveys.

Taegan Goddard will host CQ's panel of pollsters on November 17 featuring Scott Rasmussen, Quinnipiac's Peter Brown and PPP's Tom Jensen.

And, slightly off-topic, Failblog reminds us the posters need proofreading too:

epic fail pictures